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Poetry

Steep concrete stairs leading up to
the empty stadium’s ledge—

and was it a moment’s lapse,
that one step out onto air?

Or was there a clamor,
a shrieking inside, a pack

chasing her, creatures who prodded
and leered, who for so long,

like sleeping dogs,
she gingerly stepped around,

and perhaps had come to think of
as companions in her widowhood,

as they slumbered and roused,
drove her to the brink, then cowered,

as her grown sons filled her mind
and drove them back,

until she came to that ledge

where she must have hesitated
in the afternoon light,

the shimmering green of playing fields
and distant hills—

§

Of the three days in the cave,
the Gospels do not speak—nothing
of that journey others have imagined

through inner earth, light-lathed
or dazed with ground fog—
nothing of the harrow teeth,

the hard passage
into the death swamp where souls drift,
some nodding out,

some on angry lookout,
crouched, ready to lunge
and tear at the wounds,

while others leap up
eager to follow, racing ahead,
then running back.

Or would Spirit do this alone,
if indeed it was done—
a heavy wind, a shimmering presence,

while the body lay stiff in its wounds,
lead weight, blood caked,
until—

what?—a rumble of voice,
a prod of light, then the wrenching
ache of flesh—

§

Impossible to know another’s ache,
what brute spirits rush the soul’s house,

tumble shelves, trample the lovely books,
ram their heads through picture frames,

toss tables and chairs out the windows,
till blackout’s the only relief.

You who would have been Silence to her,
wrecked, solitary as she was,

you who could have been caught
on wings and lifted up, but instead

let yourself be nailed to that dark wood,
believing death a seed, darkness a season,

what of this one, her years past bearing,
who stood on the ledge—

is there a chance that even
in her bitter plunge she might have

seen you in the light, green
and tender,
________rising toward her?


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